By SUSAN CALLAHAN, Contributing Columnist
Somewhere, along one of the 60,000 miles of blood vessels that make up the internal highways of your body, an accident has occurred.
Rushing to the scene of the crash are tiny rescue emergency cells, there to do whatever they can to patch injuries. They patch up where they can, using globs of cholesterol or immune cells, but try as they might, they never quite make it look as good as new. When they’re done, inflammation starts.
Inflammation, in and of itself, is not a bad thing. Your body needs inflammation to heal. In fact, inflammation is part of the first step in your body’s general response to injury. However, chronic inflammation is a dangerous condition.
When inflammation occurs on the outside of our bodies, we can detect it with our naked eyes. We “see” swelling. But when inflammation occurs internally, we no longer see it, but the body nonetheless detects inflammation by the presence of compounds, the most well-known of which is a protein called “C reactive protein”.
C-reactive protein was first discovered by researchers William Tillett and Thomas Francis from the Rockefeller University in 1930. These doctors discovered the protein in patients who were suffering from pneumonia. Later, in the 1940’s, the same protein was found by doctors ( the same doctors who first described DNA) when they looked at the blood of patients with rheumatic fever and myocarditis.
Over the years that followed, scientists studying almost every major chronic disease --- heart disease, artery disease, diabetes, stroke, arthritis, Alzheimer’s Parkinson’s and some type of cancer --- have discovered that all these patients have one thing in common. They have unusually high levels of C-reactive protein.
What Is a Normal C-Reactive Protein Level
If you do not already have an infection or an inflammatory disease (such as rheumatoid arthritis), your C-reactive protein level should be below “1 mg/dL”.
A C-reactive protein level from 1 to 3 is considered “intermediate”.
Levels above 3 are cause for concern serious concern.
A C-Reactive Protein Level Above 3 Raises Your Risk of Heart Disease
A C-reactive protein number above “3” means you have a higher than normal risk for heart disease. A 2005 study from the University of Vermont found that people with a C-reactive protein level of 3 or higher face a 82% higher risk for cardiovascular disease. The Vermont study examined 3971 men and women who were 65 or older and who had no prior history of heart disease.
Of these 3,971 people, 547 had higher levels of C-reactive protein. Within 10 years of the start of the study, 33% of the men with the higher C-reactive protein levels had either had a heart attack or died. Among the women with high C-reactive protein levels, within 10 years 17% of them had either had a heart attack or died from the attack.
Other Than Disease, What Causes High C-reactive Protein Levels?
Here are the known factors which drive your c-reactive protein levels higher:
eating too much saturated fat
-eating diets with too much white flour
--eating too much sugar
-being under stress
-not getting enough sleep
-having periodontal disease (gum disease or tooth loss)
Top 7 Natural Remedies for High C-Reactive Protein Levels
1.Drink Orange Juice to Lower C-reactive Protein Levels
Drinking orange juice every day can significantly reduce internal inflammation and C-reactive protein levels, according to a 2015 from scientists at the University of Estadual Paulista, Araraquara, Brazil led by Dr Grace K. Z. S. Dourado.
In that study 50 people drank 750 ml (25 ounces) of orange juice every day for 8 weeks.
At the end of the 8 weeks, those who were of a normal body weight at the start of the study saw their C-reactive protein levels drop by 48% ( from .25 to .12) . Those who were heavier saw their C reactive protein levels drop by 66.6% ( from .18 to just .06).
Why was orange juice so effective? Orange juice has high levels of flavanones hesperidin and naringin in the diet. Hesperidin, in particular, has several known health benefits including anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Hesperidin also help to regulate the immune system(, immunomodulatory), lower levels of triglycerides in the blood( hypolipidemic effects) and has anticancer effects.
2. Losing Even a Little Weight Lowers C-reactive Protein Levels
Losing even a small amount of weight and keeping it off reduces the levels of inflammation in your body. In a 2013 study from Yonsei University in South Korea, scientists followed a group of 122 people for 3 years. The group was asked to reduce their daily diet by just 100 calories.
At the end of 3 years, some participants were successful in losing about 5.4% of their body weight (4.16, equal to 9.15 pounds). The group which lost weight also saw the levels of inflammation in their bodies, measured by proinflammatory cytokine compounds, drop by up to 45%.
3. Eat Flaxseeds and Walnuts to Lower C-reactive Protein
Flaxseeds and walnuts are rich in alpha linolenic acid, which your body converts to omega 3 fatty acids,eicosapentanoic acid ( EPA) and decosahexanoic acid (DHA). These fatty acids work to regulate inflammatory processes at the cellular and perhaps even genetic levels, according to many studies, including a 2013 study from the University of Capetown in South Africa.
Alpha-linolenic acid is an essential fatty acid common in canola, soybean oil and some nuts, specifically flaxseed and flaxseed oil and walnuts.
4. Add More Fatty Fish to Lower C-reactive Protein
Fatty fish such as salmon, sardines, halibut and tuna contain the same omega-3 fatty acids and appear to be especially effective in lowering C-reactive protein levels. Pregnant women with gestational diabetes who took omega-3 supplements saw their C- reactive proteins levels drop significantly and had newborns with lower rates of hospitalization, a 2015 study from the University of Naples Federico II discovered.
Omega-3 fatty acids have been heavily studied for their beneficial health effects, which range from lowering blood pressure, lowering risk for heart disease, stroke and acting to modulate the adverse effects of some types of auto-immune disease. But there are limitations to what omega-3 fatty acids can do.
Although these acids can help to lower inflammation somewhat, they were not helpful in lowering C-reactive protein in patients who were already in an highly inflammatory state due to end stage renal disease, a 2015 study from Isfahan Kidney Diseases Research Center, Isfahan University of Medical Sciences in Iran found.
5. Add Resistance Training to Drop C Reactive Protein Levels
Weight Training can dramatically lower C-reactive protein levels. In 2015, scientists from Londrina State University in Brazil studied how resistance training affected the health of older women.
They examined a group of 65 women whose average age was 68. The women were divided into two groups: “novices”, those who had no previous experience with weight training and “advanced, those who had previously gone through 24 weeks of weight training.
Both groups of women then underwent weight training which targeted all the major muscle groups 3 times a week for 8 weeks. At the end of the study, the novices saw their C-reactive protein levels drop by 22.9% and the advanced group saw their levels drop by an astounding 54.5%.
You don't need to go to a gym to do weight training exercises. Climbing stairs, squats, push-ups and sit-ups use your own body weight to train your muscles.
6. Stop Smoking and Stay Away from Smokers
Smoking is highly inflammatory. A 2013 study from the Harvard School of Public Health that 18 hours after being exposed to secondhand smoke, plasma levels of C-reactive protein levels can increase up to 24.2%.
7. Cut Back on Sugar to Lower C-reactive Protein
Sugar increases inflation both by increasing levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines. Sugar apparently increases amounts of a glucose transporter, called GLUT1, which drives the inflammation of macrophages, a 2014 study from the University of North Carolina has found. Try to reduce the amount of refined sugar in your diet to zero or close to zero. Refined carbohydrates such as white flour ---yes, that includes white bread, dinner rolls, potato chips --- should be eaten sparingly, perhaps as once or twice a month treats.